Met Office plans world’s-fastest weather forecasting supercomputer that will help predict storms up to eight days in advance in £850MILLION upgrade
- The new weather forecasting system is set to be the fastest in the world
- Data will be used to select suitable locations for defences and anticipate change
- It is thought that the new supercomputer will be first introduced in August 2022
Major storms will be forecast up to eight days in advance thanks to the Met Office upgrading to an £850million supercomputer.
The new weather forecasting system will be the fastest in the world – increasing Met Office computing capacity six-fold.
Data collected will be used to help more accurately predict storms, select the most suitable locations for flood defences and anticipate changes to the global climate when the device is turned on in August 2022.
Major storms will be forecast up to eight days in advance thanks to the Met Office upgrading to an £850million supercomputer. Pictured: Teme Street in Tenbury Wells is seen under floodwater after Storm Dennis
Professor Albert Klein Tank, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services, said: ‘There will be more and more lead time for forecasts like the storm last week and this weekend’s Storm Dennis.
‘And that’s really a huge benefit for preparing. Now it’s five days lead time, almost, and when you go back in time, it was only one or two days.
‘So increasing that time horizon is really one of the efforts in weather forecasting.’
The ‘lead time’ to predict a significant weather event was only two days a decade ago, which gave little time to prepare flood defences, or warn elderly people and hospitals.
But the new supercomputer can analyse smaller ‘boxes’ in terms of area of the atmosphere.
Professor Tank said events would be predicted in eight days in the coming decades, and that extreme weather forecasts could come ten days ahead within 50 years.
This would help to prepare transport hubs like airports and railways too.
The new weather forecasting system will be the fastest in the world – increasing Met Office computing capacity six-fold. Pictured: Flood water surrounded two abandoned cars that had been left in a flooded street in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire
The Met office currently uses three Cray XC40 supercomputers, which collectively form one of the most powerful weather and climate processors in the world.
Operational since December 2016, they can carry out 14,000 trillion calculations per second.
This system – which is due to reach the end of its life in late 2022 – is in the top 50 of the world’s most powerful computers, and contains enough storage to hold over 100 years’ worth of HD films.
The Government is putting £1.2billion into the new measures.
The supercomputer itself is expected to cost £854million, with remaining funds going towards investment in the observations network and programme offices over a ten-year period.
Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘Come rain or shine, our significant investment for a new supercomputer will further speed up weather predictions, helping people be more prepared for weather disruption from planning travel journeys to deploying flood defences.’